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Increasing evidence documents fathers’ influential role in their children’s eating, physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviours (SB). We aimed to expand limited existing research examining fathers’ influence in these areas by exploring Latino fathers’ beliefs, attitudes and practices related to eating, PA and SB of their young children.
Seven focus group discussions were conducted in Spanish with Latino fathers (n 28) of children aged 2–8 years. Audio recordings were transcribed and translated verbatim without identifiers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis to identify key concepts and themes using NVivo 11 software.
Fathers expressed positive beliefs and attitudes about the importance of healthy eating for their young children, themselves and their families. Nevertheless, the majority reported familial practices including eating out, getting take-out, etc. that have been linked to increased obesity risk among Latino children. Fathers were more involved and engaged in children’s PA than eating and feeding. However, several fathers reported engaging predominantly in sedentary activities with their children, appeared permissive of children’s sedentary habits and struggled to set limits on children’s screen-time.
We provide new information on Latino fathers’ beliefs and child feeding and PA practices that may provide important targets for interventions aimed at promoting healthful eating and PA behaviours of Latino children. Future research should further quantify the influence of Latino fathers’ parenting styles and practices on development of children’s eating, PA and SB. This information is needed to identify risk factors amenable to interventions and to design culturally appropriate parenting and family-based interventions targeting Latino children’s home environment and designed to meet this ethnic group’s specific needs.
Research indicates that healthful eating and physical activity (PA) practices implemented in child-care settings can have a positive effect on children’s healthful behaviours in this setting, and this effect on healthful behaviours may possibly transfer to the home environment. While more research is needed to examine whether behaviours learned in family child-care homes (FCCH) transfer, the potential for transferability is especially important given that Latino children’s home environment has been characterized by obesogenic parenting practices. We aimed to examine Latino parents’ perceptions of their pre-school children’s eating and PA experiences at home and at FCCH.
Qualitative study. Six focus groups were conducted in Spanish (n 36). Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis to identify key concepts and themes.
Analyses revealed that Latino parents perceive their children have healthier eating and PA experiences at FCCH than at home. Parents attributed this to FCCH providers providing an environment conducive to healthful eating and PA due to providers having more knowledge and skills, time and resources, and being required to follow rules and regulations set by the state that promote healthful eating and PA.
Understanding parental perceptions, attitudes and practices related to establishing and maintaining an environment conducive to children’s healthful eating and PA at home and at the FCCH is essential for the design of successful interventions to promote children’s healthful behaviours in these two settings. Given that parents perceive their children as having more healthful behaviours while at FCCH, interventions that address both settings jointly may be most effective than those addressing only one environment by itself.
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